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Though men’s urinary tract infections can be more complicated and faster to reach the kidneys, they are still treatable with antibiotics.

Urinary tract infections are a common occurrence in women, who are more susceptible to UTIs due to a shorter urethra, thus giving bacteria a shorter distance to travel. Women are four times as likely to get a UTI as their male counterparts. In fact, only three percent of men worldwide are estimated have a UTI each year.

Yet, it is possible for men to develop urinary tract infections, and when they do strike, they often far more complicated than in a female. In men, the infection seems to spread faster to the kidneys once it has begun.

In older men, the cause is of urinary tract infections is usually the same as in women; E coli getting into the urinary tract and growing rapidly there. In young men, a UTI is more often due to an STI, a sexually transmitted infection.

In men the urinary tract consists of the urethra, the bladder, the prostate, and the kidneys.

Why do UTIs occur in men?

It is possible, though rare, for a man to get a UTI from having a sexual encounter with someone else, particularly women. Most of the time the UTI is caused by bacteria that are already inside the man’s urinary tract. The bacteria settle in to grow when a man is unable to fully empty his bladder.

An enlarged prostate gland is often the reason for the inability to completely empty the bladder and flush out the bacteria. Though an enlarged prostate can be attributed to cancer, it is more commonly caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia (noncancerous enlargement of the prostate), which is common with increased age. A man’s prostate wraps around the bladder’s slim neck region. This is where the urethra connects to the bladder as well. If the prostate becomes enlarged, it can squeeze the bladder’s neck and make it difficult for the urine to flow properly through the tubes. Bacteria are not properly flushed out and begin growing in number.

Signs of a urinary tract infection in men

Men share most of the same symptoms of a urinary tract infection with women, and you are probably already familiar with them:

  • Painful burning sensations during urination, or a tingling sensation after urination
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom, during which very little comes out
  • A worrisome change in urine color; white, cloudy, pink-tinged, red, dark
  • A urine scent that is strong or offensive
  • Pelvic pain, along with pain in the sides or back that doesn’t end when you change positions
  • A slow stream of urine or some leakage
  • The inability to begin urination or dribbling
  • A low grade fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Prostatitis – a prostate infection which has its own symptoms. These include fever, chills, fatigue, pain between the rectum and scrotum, painful ejaculation, and dribbling during urination instead of a steady stream.

Which men are at risk of developing a UTI?

Anyone can get a UTI, but there are a few important risk factors to consider. If a patient has one or more of the following risk factors, he should discuss ways to reduce the odds of developing a urinary tract infection with his primary care physician.
  • Kidney stones or other obstructions
  • An enlarged prostate
  • An abnormal narrowing of the urethra or other abnormalities of the urinary tract
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Diabetes, type 1 or type 2
  • Taking medication that suppresses the immune system
  • An inability to completely empty the bladder
  • Use of a catheter
  • Immobility for long periods of time
  • Being uncircumcised and not practicing adequate hygiene
  • Having anal intercourse
  • Having had a recent procedure on the urinary tract; surgery, catheterization (inserting a tube to drain fluid from the bladder), cystoscopy (inserting a tiny camera to examine the urethra and bladder)

UTIs in men: Diagnosis and treatment

A physician will ask for a urine sample when you present with the symptoms of a urinary tract infection. The sample will be immediately sent to the lab for an evaluation as to the type of bacteria that may be causing the infection. The doctor may also perform a dipstick test, placing a test strip in a small amount of the patient’s urine. If the stick changes color the doctor is instantly aware that the patient has a UTI.

Patients may be asked to endure a digital rectal exam, especially if they are over fifty. The physician will place a glove covered finger inside the rectum to feel for an enlarged prostate.

Once the condition is diagnosed, a prescription for antibiotics will be given to the patient. Depending on the type of bacteria, the patient’s overall health, and the severity of the UTI, he may be taking medication from three days to six weeks. The usual regime for men is seven days.

The patient may receive pain medication or something for fever. If not, then over the counter medications like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and phenazopyridine will suffice.

Complicated infection sometimes require surgery. This may include draining some areas of the urinary tract or removing inflamed tissue.

Preventing UTIs in men

Most men would rather prevent a UTI than suffer from one. There are actions men can take that make an already small likelihood of urinary tract infection even smaller.

  • Empty the bladder fully and whenever you feel the urge
  • Drink plenty of water. Alcohol and caffeine are irritants and do not count as ways to hydrate yourself.
  • If not circumcised, then clean the area under the foreskin after a shower
  • Wear condoms during sexual encounters
  • Be sure to urinate immediately after sex
  • Cleanse the genitals thoroughly before and after sex
  • Wear dry, clean underwear. Change daily.


It is rare for a man to suffer from a urinary tract infection. The urethra of a man is longer than a woman’s which makes it more difficult for bacteria to gain entrance. Prostatic fluid has antibacterial qualities that can keep down bacterial growth. Age, however, is a factor. Men over fifty have a higher incidence of UTIs due to enlarged prostate and other medical conditions. Though men’s urinary tract infections can be more complicated and faster to reach the kidneys, they are still treatable with antibiotics. Seven days is the normal regime, although if the infection is particularly tough, it may require a lengthy treatment or intravenous antibiotics.

Once a patient has begun the antibiotics he should feel better quickly. If the symptoms continue or worsen the individual should inform the doctor as a change of treatment may be necessary. The patient must finish all the antibiotics even if he thinks he is well. Ending them too soon can cause a repeat of the UTI, and make the bacteria more resistant to the antibiotic prescribed. In those cases, only the weakest of the bacteria will die off and the more aggressive bacteria will be given a chance to grow. This could lead to a serious condition or permanent kidney damage.